Is it time to set skin cancer prevention targets globally?
More details
Hide details
Centre for Health Services Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Australia
QIMR Berghofer, Australia
Queensland Health, Australia
The University of Queensland, Australia
Skin Cancer Prevention Queensland, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A165
Background and Objective: Australia has the highest incidence rate of skin cancer in the world. Skin cancer accounts for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers, and two in three Australians will be diagnosed before the age of 70. Skin cancer is Australia’s most expensive cancer (costing $1.7 billion annually). Within Australia, the incidence is highest in Queensland, where it is 37% higher than the national average. Methods: Stakeholders from government, academic, patient advocacy, sports, outdoor workplaces, health and safety, and other settings co-designed skin cancer prevention targets for Queensland. They reviewed the evidence on trends in sun protection and sunburns, successful prevention programs, attitudes towards sun protection, and adoption of sun protective behaviours. They reflected on policy and/or program gaps, overall and for priority populations and settings. Results: In 2020, 49% of adults and 45% of children reported being sunburnt in the previous 12 months. Only 40% of adults used broad-brimmed hats. And fewer than 60% of adults and 80% of children applied SPF 30+ sunscreen when outdoors in summer. Additionally, sunscreen market data suggested that, on average, Australians use only 200 ml of sunscreen per person per year. Randomised trials show that sunscreen reduces sunburn, skin cancer and naevi. Models suggest that optimal sunscreen use could reduce skin cancer rates by a maximum of 30% by 2031. Based on the evidence, realistic (but ambitious) targets for reductions in melanoma and keratinocyte cancer were designed: 5% by 2030, and 25% by 2050. Conclusions: Setting targets for skin cancer reduction is important to drive policy and motivate the population to adjust their sun protection behaviour. To our knowledge, these targets are amongst the first to be set globally and could inspire other countries to follow.